Tag Archives: Cherokee Purple tomatoes

#Bee-Loved Flower People

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Bergamot. Wellington 2015

In the spring, I  gave bee-loved seedlings (and tomato and courgette seedlings) only to people I love. By chance really. People in my extended ‘family’ who help me flourish, so I see them regularly. Because they warm my heart, with their laughter and talk and generosity. (Some of them passed on the seedlings to people I don’t know.)

As the plants mature, I’m learning that these beautiful  Bee-Loved Flower People  (the 1960s return, in a new form!) also help the plants flourish, strongly. And differently from those that stayed here, in my garden and on the public zigzag. I expected that this would happen with the seedlings I gave my chi gong teacher, but it seems to be happening with all the plants.

Remember that 14 1/2 inch Florence ribbed courgette/marrow the other day, from up the coast in Kapiti?  That courgette photo from out at Lower Hutt? And now there’s more news, via Twitter, from a household  that’s a twenty minute stroll away.

Last night, in a series of tweets, I got the  picture above, of the first bergamot seedling to flower, confirming that the plant is a bergamot. Then these tomato pics. Like me, this Bee-Loved Flower Person has lost the plant labels.

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Gardener’s Delight?

‘I think that’s the Gardener’s Delights,’  came the tweet. ‘Not sure about these wrinkly ones. I don’t think that’s the Black From Tula but I don’t remember what the third breed was you gave us!’ (Cherokee Purple.)

wrinkly ones
Cherokee Purple?

And: ‘I think this might be a B(lack) F(rom) T(ula)’.

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Black From Tula?

‘Mine are so SMALL still,’ I tweeted back.

The response: ‘I may have cheated as they’re planted straight into potting mix bags. We are quite sheltered though which probably helps?’

My response just flew onto the screen: ‘There’s no ‘cheating’ in that. Shelter, yr sun, yr good chi & green fingers. All that laughter–‘

I’m so excited by all this. Surprised and delighted that these Bee-Loved Flower People’s experiences with their plants extend and enhance my understanding of the plants that stayed here.

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Florence Ribbed Courgettes & Hanging Tomatoes

Alongside the bee-loved plants, vegetables grow apace.

The Kings Seeds Florence Ribbed courgette is a stunner. Here are babies on some of my seedlings transplanted to a Lower Hutt garden.

Fancourgette

And this is looking down into one of the four plantings in my back garden.

Florence couregettes

Some of the flowers are HUGE, but they don’t seem to attract bees. On the biggest plant, some courgettes rot at the ends as they grow. (When I harvest I slash off any rotten bits. And all the courgettes have been good to eat.)

The plants that travelled up the coast to Kapiti are doing the best of all. Look at this monster that grew there, over just a few days while the owners were away.

comparative courgettes
That big one is 14 1/2 inches long.

The two in the middle came from Kapiti, too, along with an excellent recipe for courgette and feta fritters. Those on the far right are the largest so far from my plantings here.

And, at last, I hung some tomato plants upside down, after transplanting them and  keeping them ‘right’ way up for some days without watering, so they would establish their roots.

tomato

The bigger one, in the foreground,  is a Cherokee Purple, the smaller a little rescue Black From Tula. I’m intrigued that both tomatoes are still trying to grow upwards. See how that stem curves in the middle, towards the top of the pic?

And the compost sure holds the water. When we first hung them up even though I didn’t water them, for DAYS water dripped out via the Black From Tula, which hangs a little lower.   So I put a pot of marjoram underneath, to catch the drips.

The contrast with this lovely row is considerable, isn’t it?

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But I’m doing my best. Learning heaps.

Meanwhile, out on the zigzag, more tomatoes, silver beet and the parsley are growing well. Though something’s nibbling at one of the silver beet plants. A slug? A snail? A bird?

silver beet slightly eaten

Perhaps not snails. The other day,  a guy leant on the rail above the  cape gooseberries, next to the silver beet. He gazed at them for quite a while, without saying a thing.

cape gooseberries doing well
cape gooseberries

Eventually I said–

‘Are you wondering what they are?’

‘No,’ he said. ‘They’re cape gooseberries. I had some and snails ate them.’

So I’ve decided that if snails aren’t eating these gooseberries, it’s unlikely they’re around to eat the silver beet, either.

Anyway, I hope that guy will return, to eat some cape gooseberries when they ripen.They’re flowering now. I don’t think they need bees for pollination.

And then, after claiming yesterday that the bumbles are interested only in lavender, poppies and borage, today I saw one dancing among these flowers. Nothing left in the poppies, it seemed, so she tried the yellow calendulas and the cornflowers on the right.

all of them

Tomatoes Beloved, Bee-Loved Flowers Not!

visitors

People visit to choose plants to take home.  Two have taken  a clump of sunflowers and the interplanted alyssum. But most people want tomatoes. And basil.

What about some alyssum I say. What about some sunflowers? We’ve got sunflowers, they say. Got alyssum.

sunflowers & alyssum with holes where there used to be more--
Sunflowers & alyssum with holes where there used to be more–

Look! I say then. Look at these tiny bee-loved plants.

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Anonymous, could be bergamot. Or hyssop (with stray alyssum at far left)

I don’t know what they’re called because their label sticks blew away in a Kapiti wind. But they’ll be safe for the bees at your place. Better than anything you can buy at most garden centres, where they may be affected by neonics.

But no. They want tomatoes. Which don’t need bees. Which bees don’t care about. They want basil, because it’s hard to grow and it goes with the tomatoes. We’ve got plenty of flowering plants, they say.

So, a bit of advice about tomatoes out in the open–

  • They will flourish only if they’re in a plot with at least six hours of sun on a sunny day.
  • You can split open a bag of compost and put a tomato plant directly in it – no need for more!
  • You can fill a bucket with compost, put a hole in the bottom of the bucket and hang the tomato plant downward – then feed liquid seaweed/comfrey etc from the top.
tomatoesupside down
Great trick, huh? (thanks, Fiona Lovatt!)
  • If you want tomato-flavour-to-die-for, establish around 50 plants and severely limit the number of branches and fruit (via the sterling Alex Mackay, whose tomatoes are legendary).

Gardeners Delight (no apostrophe!) is the visitors’ fave tomato, so far. I have lots of Black From Tula and the ones that – this year – interest me most, Cherokee Purple .

Here are small Cherokee Purples in among the strawberries a month ago with tiny bee-loved borage plants top right–

Cherokees in garden 12 October 2014
Cherokee Purples 12 October 2014

From egg cartons inside, then to the outside, then to bigger containers outside. Some Cherokees now await new owners, with basil and – in one pot – a sneaky alyssum. These are rescue plants, coming right near the rosemary, the lemon balm and the evening primrose.

Waiting for a new home

And I’ve planted a few Cherokee Purples myself. The biodegradable pots are meant to be below the soil, but I haven’t got that quite right yet. So I tore the top of the pot and pushed it down towards the earth.

planted
Cherokee Purple with organic basil, both from Kings Seeds

And – fantastic news – that top-and-bottom-less tin to protect the Florence courgettes from slug-and-snail invasion seems to be working–

courgette
Florence courgette in tin, with cornflowers (& teeny borage and calendula seedlings).

Apart from the Purple Cherokees and the Florence-courgette-in-the-tin success, I’m excited about my phacellia. This bowlful and a couple of smaller containers – only one of them given away, to a special gardener. Can’t decide where in the garden to provide this new-to-me-bee-loved treat.

Phacellia
Phacellia

The big question at the mo though is, HOW am I going to persuade visitors to welcome healthy bee-loved flower plants into their gardens?